The Magic were on the wrong side of history on Tuesday, courtesy of James Harden.
Harden recorded the first 60-point triple double in NBA history, leading the Rockets to a 114-107 win over the Magic. Harden finished with a career-high 60 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
With Chris Paul and Trevor Arizia missing the game due to injury, and with Eric Gordon exiting in the second quarter due to back stiffness, Harden saw a boost in his usage rate and took full advantage of it. Harden, who played 46 minutes, shot 19-for-30 from the field, including 5 of 14 from three, and hit 17 of his 18 free throw attempts.
He scored 18 points in the third to help the Rockets hold off the Magic.
In one ugly sequence for the Magic with the score tied at 107, Orlando committed a five-second violation on an in-bounds play under the basket and then at the other end of the court allowed Harden to grab his own rebound off a missed three. Harden then drilled a step-back jumper over Evan Fournier, who to his credit actually played decent defense on the play. Harden’s four-point play with 45 seconds to go not only gave the Rockets a 113-107 lead to seal the win, it also broke his previous career-high of 56 points and allowed him to hit the 60-point milestone.
Holy crap. James Harden sets Houston Rockets franchise record for points in a game (60) with this stepback AND 1 pic.twitter.com/f3cMIanYDf— James Wobden (@World_Wide_Wob) January 31, 2018
It was the third time an opponent has scored 60 points in a game against the Magic. Michael Jordan scored 64 points in 1993 and Allen Iverson dropped 60 in 2005.
Shortly after recording his 60th point, he corralled the final rebound he needed to complete a historic triple-double. The performance one-upped Russell Westbrook’s triple-double against the Magic last season, when he recorded 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, which at the time was the most points scored during a triple-double in league history.
C’mon @JHarden13!!! Now that’s insane G! 60 point Triple Dub. Sheesh!!!— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 31, 2018
JH— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 31, 2018
The Magic - who attempted just 10 free throws all night, making eight - kept pace with the Rockets thanks in part to connecting on 15 of 31 three-point attempts (48.4 percent). Mo Speights, who made four threes, had 17 points in 21 minutes off the bench, including a four-point play with 6:41 remaining to even the score at 101.
Mario Hezonja, starting in place of the injured Aaron Gordon, scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter, including three three-pointers. He shot 7-for-12 from the field, including 3 of 5 from downtown.
Jonathon Simmons had 15 points. Shelvin Mack, who added another strong game to his recent stretch, added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Mack had a perfect shooting night from the field, hitting all five of his attempts, including a pair of threes.
Mack earned the most playing time from Frank Vogel, leading the Magic trio of point guards with 25 minutes. D.J. Augustin had 13 points in 28 minutes. Elfrid Payton played just 18 minutes and was benched for the entire second quarter.
Frank Vogel went with the hot hands at the guard positions in the first half. Elfrid Payton played the first 7 minutes, 5 seconds of the first quarter and then didn't play again in the half. D.J. Augustin & Shelvin Mack each played the entire second quarter.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) January 31, 2018
After chasing Harden around all night, there is no time to rest for Orlando. The Magic, who have now dropped three straight, now return home to play the Lakers on the second night of a back-to-back.